George Pataki announced his run for President in Exeter, New Hampshire on May 28, 2015. He opened his speech thanking those who were attending, those who had elected him as Governor three times, and then gave a greeting in Spanish.
Pataki defeated three term incumbent New York Governor Mario Cuomo in the 1994 Republican Revolution. He was subsequently elected for two more terms, serving three terms as Governor of New York.
He built his announcement on a foundation of American and Republican history. Exeter, New Hampshire is the birthplace of the Republican Party. He invoked key historical Republicans and their contributions to freedom.
“We are here in Exeter, New Hampshire, birthplace of the Republican party, Abraham Lincoln’s party who saved union and who brought the promise of freedom to all Americans;
Teddy Roosevelt’s party who fought for the square deal so that the rich and powerful couldn’t limit the freedom of working Americans; and,
Ronald Reagan’s party, who restored American’s belief in ourselves and in the transcendent value of freedom, the freedom that has given us the greatest country the world has ever known; the freedom that a man named Amos Tuck declared the foundation of that party right here in Exeter, New Hampshire.
The same freedom that I fear is at risk today from an ever more powerful, more intrusive government in Washington. It is to preserve and protect that freedom for us that I stand here today. It is to preserve and protect that freedom for future generations that I speak. It is to preserve and protect that freedom that this morning I announce I am a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.”
He then told about his life growing up on a farm in rural Peekskill, New York. He focused on the values held by the people in his community.
“Every one of us growing up in that small town believed the American dream, believed in hard work, and believed in ourselves. We believed, no we really knew, that if we dreamed something we could do it if we worked hard, studied hard, had faith, family, and friends encouraging us, nothing could be beyond our reach. We believed in the American dream and it was real.”
He told of his father coming to America as an immigrant unable to speak a word of English. He told how his mother, still living today at the age of 99 and watching his announcement on C-SPAN, had to turn down a scholarship to Cornell because of the depression so that she could work as a waitress and provide for the family. Even facing those challenges, they held fast to the American Dream.
“They never saw themselves as victims. They were Americans. And though they might not have had every real opportunity for themselves, they knew that their children could accomplish anything.”
He told how he and his brother worked two jobs while also going to college. He believed in then and believes in today the promise of unlimited opportunity.
His purpose in running for President is to restore that promise of unlimited opportunity, “for every family, every child, and every community in America today.” He went on to describe the basic problem that he sees.
“Today, too many Americans feel the best days of America are behind us. That our children aren’t going to have the same opportunities we did. Government has grown too big, too powerful, too expensive, too intrusive. Washington politicians and bureaucrats believe they know better than us and can tell us how to live our lives. From the health care that each of us must have to trying to dictate to every child in every school what they must learn.
A young mother seeking to start a small business is inundated with oppressive paperwork and regulations, and gives up. A small manufacturer seeking to build the next plant and create American jobs is faced with excessive taxation and forced to build that factory overseas.
Too many Americans feel the path of opportunity is closed to them. We must make sure it’s not.”
He acknowledged that the problems are real. Going back to his life experiences of growing up on a farm he said that they didn’t ask the government to solve their problems. “You just figure out what needs to be done and go do it. That’s the American way.”
He then made several things that he would do “to get oppressive government off the backs of Americans.”
First he pointed out that for every member in congress, there is a former member lobbying them. He would institute a lifetime ban on members of congress serving as lobbyists.
He would repeal Obamacare and Common Core. He would eliminate excessive taxes that crush small business. He would “Throw out an incomprehensible tax code written by lawyers at the direction of lobbyists in the interests of the powerful, and replace it with simpler, lower rates that are fairer for all of us.”
He would lower taxes on manufacturers “to the lowest in the developed world so that factories and jobs could spring up across America.”
He would shrink the size of the federal workforce. He specifically targeted some of the recent IRS abuses. “I would fire every current IRS employee abusing government power to discriminate on the basis of politics or religion. That is not America!”
He called for politicians to live under the same rules and laws that apply to the average American. “No exemptions for politicians from laws they impose on us, no special rules for the powerful.”
He took a jab at powerful politicians with a not so subtle warning to Hillary Clinton saying that the Justice Department would treat everyone fairly.
“No one will be above the law, not even if you are a former Secretary of State whose name happens to be Clinton. Let’s deliver a clear message to the politicians in Washington. You are our servants, not our masters.”
Pataki spoke of his experience as Governor of New York. He was told that he would never get elected because there were too many people dependent on government and the bureaucrats were too powerful.
His confidence was not based on himself but on the people.
“In 12 years, New York went from the state with the highest tax burden, the lowest credit rating, and billions of dollars in deficits to a state with 143 billion in lower taxes, billions in surplus and its highest credit rating in generations. All it took was for me to get government out of the people’s way.”
He addressed government programs that kept people in poverty and the disconnect between what liberals say and what their policies do. “It seems like liberals have so much compassion for the poor that they keep creating more of them.”
He described the changed condition of New York state between the time he took office and the time he left office. If welfare programs got people off of welfare, New York would have been a huge success.
Pataki said that when he took office, New York had every government poverty program than anyone could imagine. With the result that one in 11 of every man, woman, and child in New York State were on welfare – not Medicaid or Disability, but welfare. “The American dream did not seem real to them.”
During his 12 years in office and conservative policies, there were over one million people fewer on welfare than when he began. “We replaced dependency with opportunity, resignation with hope, mere existence with dreams, a welfare check with a paycheck.”
Pataki moved from domestic policy to national defense. George Pataki was Governor of New York on September 11, 2001. He will not forget what happened that day and he is not hesitant to call the enemy by name.
“I saw up close the horrible consequences of too many believing that because radical Islam was thousands of miles away, across an ocean, that we were safe in America. Sadly, it wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. The most important thing government does is to provide for the security and safety of its citizens. Sadly, Washington is not doing that. I will not forget the lesson of September 11. I fear too many in Washington already have.”
He said that we must secure the border. Noting that he is the product of immigrants, he said that we must know that those who are coming here are coming legally and “coming not to harm us but to be a part of a better America.”
He made reference to Ronald Reagan saying that “Peace through Strength” is more than a slogan; it is a policy that works. He said that we needed to strengthen our military and stand with our allies. Specifically he mentioned Israel, NATO, and the free Baltic States.
He supports those who are fighting ISIS and showed willingness to use American force against ISIS.
“We will provide whatever aid is necessary to those already fighting Isis on the ground, to stop their barbarism and inhumanity. And yes, if necessary, American forces will be used to actually defeat and destroy Isis so they can pose no threat to us here.”
While expressing his willingness to use American forces, he also emphasized that “we will not be the world’s policeman.” As a parent, he has had sons who served overseas and knows “what it is like to lie awake dreading a call in the middle of the night when your child is in harm’s way overseas.”
Pataki acknowledged that the nation faces real challenges. He looked back at historical moments when the nation faced challenges – Washington at Valley Force, Lincoln and a nation divided, Roosevelt facing the Great Depression and Nazi Germany.
He spoke with confidence that Americans will rise above the challenge today of a large and oppressive government. In contrast, he pointed to the Democrat party and their approach. “Today, those in the other party, instead of offering ideas, seek to divide. When you have no solutions instead you offer fear.”
He pointed out the manner in which Democrats try to instill fear in their characterization of Republicans in relation to immigrants and the middle class. He said that we know the motive of immigrants coming to America to get a better life and “we welcome all who come here legally.”
He took another shot at Hillary Clinton when talking about the middle class.
“We are the party of the middle class; unless by middle class you mean someone who left the White House dead broke and 10 years later had $100 million dollars; unless by middle-class, they mean someone who charges a poor country $500,000 for a half-hour speech. That’s their party’s candidate. She speaks for the middle class? They are the party of privilege. We are the party of the middle class.”
He transitioned his speech to a look toward the future. “They are the party of the past. We must be the party of the future.”
His vision is for the next decade being one where American workers and innovators accomplish things we can only dream of today. In health he saw a decade with a cure for cancer and an end to the scourge of Alzheimer’s. In energy he saw America powering the world with clean resources bringing boundless economic growth. In transportation he saw high speed trains moving from city to city and cars that drive themselves. “Let the next decade be the decade when America proves to the world, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet'”.
He closed his speech with a vision of uniting Americans. Referring back to September 11, 2001, he witnessed the strength of America. He also rejected the idea that America can unite only in adversity.
“I saw the horrors of September 11 firsthand. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I also saw the strength of America on display.
For those months, we were not Republicans, Democrats, black or white, young, or old. We were Americans. We had been attacked and we were going to stand together to show the world that we were unbowed, unafraid and would come back stronger than ever.
I completely reject the idea that we can only unite in adversity. We are so much better than that. I know we have true greatness within us because I have seen that greatness countless times. I have seen what Americans can do when we understand we share a common dream, a common future, a common destiny.
I know that working together with the support of the government dedicated to restoring freedom, rather than restraining it, we will once again astonish the world with what we can accomplish…. Let us go forward together. I guarantee you, the 21st century is going to be America’s greatest century.”
Both Governor Pataki and his wife, Libby acknowledged that his race was going to be a struggle and uphill battle. Even if you asked someone who watched the news regularly to name the Republican candidates running for President, it is quite likely that George Pataki’s name would not be mentioned.
He did not address social issues directly. He emphasized freedom and the American dream. He was unafraid and unashamed to name radical Islam as America’s enemy and was hawkish toward them as an enemy.
He was elected three times as Governor of New York. One might question why he did not make his announcement from some place in New York. He pointed to the history of Exeter, New Hampshire as the birthplace of the Republican Party.
A more plausible explanation for that decision is that New Hampshire is an early primary. If he could score an upset in New Hampshire it would cast him as a front runner.
If he could convince Republicans that he could beat Hillary Clinton in New York and bring their 31 electoral votes to the Republican side, he would have a strong argument on his side. He would also have to convince social conservatives in the SEC primary that he is friendly to their concerns.
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